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Who Really Are the Riskiest Drivers?

We have all heard the jokes about (insert personal stereotype) bad drivers. You might think you or someone you know falls into a good or bad driver category. But is any of this statistically correct and who performs the most risky behaviors.

Whether it’s driving drunk, speeding, or driving at night, we’re all at risk when anyone of any age participates in these hazardous behaviors. We’ll look at dangerous driving habits and the groups of people that tend to engage in them most often. Let’s dive in!

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Why Is Risky Driving Dangerous?

There are numerous ways risky drivers endanger their lives and the lives of others. Speeding, distracted driving, and driving while tired can lead to accidents. Weaving in and out of traffic can cause accidents even if the driver isn’t involved. Teenagers, young adults, and older adults tend to be the riskiest drivers.

To give you some perspective, 2021 marked a 16-year high in car crash fatalities, with nearly 43,000 estimated people dying. This was up about 10.5% from 2020, and was the biggest annual increase ever recorded. Moreover, there were an estimated 6 million police-reported non-fatal traffic crashes in 2021.

A risky driver is someone who is more likely to get in some sort of accident and file an insurance claim. From an auto insurance standpoint, your driving record can place you into a risk category and affect how much you pay in insurance premiums. High-risk drivers are charged more than those considered low-risk drivers. Once deemed a high-risk driver, you can be stuck in this category for up to 3-5 years after the incident, as traffic violations often remain on your record for this long. However, all auto insurers are different in how the determine risk and charge their drivers.

Aggressive driver
From aggressive driving to driving distracted, bad driving behaviors put yourself and others at risk.

What Driving Behaviors Put You At Risk?

There are several behaviors that endanger the driver, passengers, and other travelers on the road. When you drive dangerously, you’re risking serious consequences, from jail time and expensive tickets to even death.

Speeding

Driving above the speed limit is hazardous. Really every increase in speed increases risk. There’s a reason officials set the speed limit. Some roads have twists and turns that are dangerous to take at high speeds. Other weather conditions like rain could hydroplane if traveling too fast.

Plus, it’s takes much longer to brake when traveling at high speeds. Should someone veer into your lane or pull out in front of you, you won’t have much time to react and slow down.

There are even times where the speed limits are too high. Bad weather conditions or when driving a big heavy vehicle or trailer all have imacts on what is a safe operating speed.

Distracted Driving

No matter if it’s texting, searching for radio stations, or chatting with backseat friends, distracted driving is risky. Your full attention should be on the road. You should be observing the drivers around you. You can’t be a defensive driver if you’re looking at your phone.

You’re also more likely to cross the center line or run a stop sign if you’re not paying attention. This endangers your life and the lives of other drivers on the road.

Not Wearing a Seatbelt

While you might not put other drivers at risk by not wearing a seatbelt, you are putting yourself at risk and all of our insurance premiums. Different states have varying laws about seatbelt use, but it’s always a safe decision to wear yours. Whether you’re a passenger or the driver, a seatbelt can be the difference between life and death. If you choose not to wear a seatbelt, you’re risking severe consequences in a potential accident.

Using phone while driving
Put your phone and other distractions away while on the road.

Too Many Passengers

Just like distracted driving is risky behavior, traveling with too many passengers is dangerous. This is especially true for younger drivers. A group of high school friends going out to eat on a Friday night can make it more challenging for the driver to pay full attention to driving. They’ll be more interested in the conversation in the backseat or singing loudly with the radio.

Driving While Tired

Sometimes it’s best to pull off the side of the road and rest. If you’re too tired, driving is risky for you and others on the road. Fatigue means you don’t pay attention as closely. It’s simply not safe to drive when tired.

Driving While Impaired

Alcohol-induced car crash fatalities make up about 30% of all car crash fatalities. There’s no reason to drive while impaired. Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, never get behind the wheel. You might get away with it, but you might also suffer severe consequences. Each day about 32 people die in car crashes related to drunk driving. Don’t add to those statistics.

Driving At Night

Finally, although sometimes you can’t help but drive at night, driving after the sun goes down increases your chances of being involved in a car accident. Your eyes don’t adjust as well with bright lights shining back at them. It’s more challenging to see pedestrians and cyclists. Driving at night is another risky behavior.

Pro Tip: Want to travel abroad? Keep in mind while driving in Europe these are 10 Things Tourists Do Wrong.

Drinking while driving
Twenty-eight people per day die from drunk driving accidents.

Who Are the Riskiest Drivers?

Although people of all ages engage in risky behaviors, there are three groups of people who tend to be the most dangerous drivers. Moveover, members of these groups are often put into that “high risk” category for insurance purposes. Teenagers, millennials, and older people have a greater risk of being in a car accident.

Teenagers

Drivers with less experience are more likely to drive dangerously because of lack of experience and engagement in riskier behaviors like listening too loudly to music, texting while driving, and speeding. Consumer Reports discovered, “Mile for mile, the crash rate for drivers ages 16 and 17…is almost nine times as high as that for middle-aged drivers.” Even a few years of experience made a significant difference.

Young Adults 18-25 Years Old

While significantly less risky than teenagers, young adults between 18 and 25 years old are the next riskiest driver category. Even with a few years under the belt (pun intended) these drivers still don’t have the experience or more often engage in dangerous behaviors behind the wheel.

Older People (80+ Years Old)

Finally, although older people may have more experience, they’re more likely to struggle to see clearly after dusk and have a slower reaction time to avoid potential car crashes. They’re also less likely to survive a severe accident than a younger person. Finally, even though people over age 80 probably won’t be texting and driving or messing with the radio, they’re more likely to suffer cognitive impairments or physical problems that can cause more driving challenges.

Risky driver on road
Despite driving stereotypes, men are the cause of more car accidents than women.

Are Men Or Women Drivers Involved in More Accidents?

Strictly by the numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Men cause many more accidents than women and are involved in 3 times more fatal accidents. Men caused about 5.4 million accidents, and women cause 3.7 million accidents in 2020. This, however, is not quite the whole story.

Men tend to drive much more than women overall, which lessens the accident per-mile statistics. These are the numbers that insurance companies use to calculate rates. An evaluation of male to female by mileage accidents by IIHS shows that it varies significantly by age. Young men cause about twice as many accidents per mile, but that drops to an almost par number with advanced age. Insurance costs reflect this, showing that women are much safer than young men, but in middle age, the rates become even and even flip in some places.

Men tend to drive more miles and engage in risky behaviors like drunk driving, driving without a seatbelt, and speeding. Men also account for 90% of motorcyclist deaths in the US.

However, women are more likely to incur an injury in a car accident. This could be partly due to the type of vehicles women drive. Men tend to drive heavier vehicles like trucks and SUVs.

So to sum it up, you could say that men are the more dangerous sex when it comes to vehicles.

Student driver
Teenage drivers are more likely to get in accidents due to lack of experience.

Which State Has the Most Aggressive Drivers?

According to Forbes Magazine, the top five states with the most confrontational drivers include Utah, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. This report also explained that “about 1 in 4 Utahn drivers (27%) said they know of someone in their state who was injured due to a road rage incident.” Honking in frustration, rude or offensive behavior, tailgating, and speeding were other common behaviors.

Pro Tip: We crunched the numbers to uncover Are Speeding Tickets More Expensive When Driving an RV?

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Drive Safely While Keeping An Eye Out for Other Risky Drivers

Staying safe on the road isn’t only about driving in your lane, maintaining the right speed, and using your turn signals. You also must pay attention to other drivers, perhaps risky drivers who are engaging in dangerous behaviors. Unfortunately, defensive driving is about all you can do to prevent an accident that someone else could cause.

If you have children and teenagers, teach them the dangers of risky behaviors and instill good driving habits. Not only may their lives depend on it, but the lives of their friends and other drivers are also in their hands when they’re behind the wheel.

Have you ever witnessed risky drivers? Tell us your story in the comments!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Kermit Burns

Thursday 6th of April 2023

Not a comment on the article, but the Share Sidebar on your newsletter is in an aggravating place, interfering with trying to read the article. And it can't be moved! Please consider relocating it to the top or bottom so it doesn't cover text.

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